For an arbitrary binary cycle code, we show that sum-product algorithm (SPA) decoding after infinitely many iterations equals symbolwise graph-cover decoding. We do this by characterizing the Bethe free energy function of the underlying normal factor graph (NFG) and by stating a global convergence proof of the SPA. We also show that the set of log-likelihood ratio vectors for which the SPA converges to the all-zero codeword is given by the region of convergence of the edge zeta function associated with the underlying NFG. The results in this paper justify the use of graph-cover pseudo-codewords and edge zeta functions to characterize the behavior of SPA decoding of cycle codes. These results have also implications for the analysis of attenuated sum-product and max-product algorithm decoding of low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes beyond cycle codes. © 2013 IEEE.